Lacking at Lackland

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Multiple victims (31).  Multiple instructors implicated in abuse (12). Intimidating recruits. Rape in the closet.

I’m not talking about the Aberdeen sex scandal 15 years ago, but details of what is alleged to have happened over the last three years at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Staff Sergeat Luis Walker’s court-martial began Monday. Ten women are expected to testify against him; apparently many recruits were too scared to come forward initially.

What is really unsettling is seeing this same pattern yet again, in such an egregious fashion. At the Air Force’s only recruit training center. After all the other scandals.

As Sig Christenson, veteran military-affairs reporter at the San Antonio Express-News, reported on the eve of the trial:

The Air Force has three core values, and they’re drilled into recruits from their first hours of basic training. As they march at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, they pass signs saying, “Integrity,” “Service before self” and “Excellence in all we do.”

“There is a reason there are three core values,” said retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogleman, who created the ethos for his service in the wake of a series of disciplinary problems during the mid-1990s. “You can remember them.”

But only if you believe in integrity, service and excellence to begin with.

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Even if a victim is 100% guarunteed absolute confidentiality  in counseling (through restricted reporting avenues) - the idea of lying on a security clearance form re: that counseling is enough to keep many  from it.   Ultimately the victims are concerned about lying on the form, and that it will be the discovery of that lie that will impact their career.  They are caught, trapped by the system and therefore many do not seek support they need.  As most of us know, trust issues in chain of command are also a primary reason that both restricted and unrestricted reports are not made.


And yet if these victims want to seek counseling for their sexual assault, they will be forced to disclose it on their security clearance form and discuss it with an OPM investigator. The DoD only *says* it supports victims. In reality, you are expected to get out as soon as possible and not make a fuss.


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